About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Getting Our Groove Back

This evening was beautiful. The sun was shining, the sky blue with white puffy clouds, no wind, cool temperatures, and best of all, I was with my horses. We are truly starting to get our groove back, it is not taking long but it is taking prior preparation, planning, proper position, patience, among other things.

Fosse was a gem tonight. Being a left-brained extrovert, I find him to be a delight and a great match to my extroverted personality. He is fun, spunky, and always pushing my buttons, forces me to think, laugh, and not take myself so seriously (all in a good way).

To begin with, when I arrived home, I went to the house, said hello to the dogs and Rick, got changed into my riding clothes, and walked to the barn. The horses were out in the big field. I whistled from the barn just once and Fosse appeared through the trees and brush, galloped down the trail, and came right to me, talking away and looking really happy to see me. (Lola and Whiskey were still out grazing.)

I tacked him up (bareback pad and hackamore). He was very good, stood still like and angel, and was not cinchy or concerned. This made me really happy because in the past he was very nervous about the cinch but no longer. Apparently all of the preparation work I've done with him really helped (lots of approach and retreat with the cinch, lots of friendly, lots of patience and time). After he was tacked up and had a few treats, I took him to the playground. We played with the tire obstacles (squeeze, backing, circling), with cones (weave pattern), mosied around grazing on the grass, looked in the mailbox and found some treats, and much more.

Then I mounted up and just sat there. I do this with all of the horses as I believe it is important for them to stand still when mounted and stand still until asked to move forward, no matter how ling that may be. I rode him all over the play ground playing the games, using the obstacles, and munching grass and treats. He and I were really connected. Good thing too because several Amish buggies with horses going clippity-clop went by us down the road, tractor trailers, cars, and other major distractions rushed past my place. The Amish buggies go by often and the horses usually run around like lunatics when they do (seemingly having fun though). Fosse was alert but, didn't panic and neither did I. I put myself in the pushing position, had one rein in hand in the case that I needed to flex him, rubbed his neck, head, and withers, and offered a few treats for a few flexes. I mounted and dismounted several times during our play working it from both sides, someday I am going to slide off his rump! We also proceeded out of the playground, down the driveway, and explored other areas around the property. What a wonderful session.

While all this play time was going on Lola and Whiskey made their way up to the barn and they were watching. Lola even called out a few times. When I put Fosse back, Lola approached as the next horse in line to play. I tacked her up just like Fosse. However, I really took time to go slow and use approach and retreat with the cinch, lots of treats, friendly scratches, and made the experience a non-issue. She was emotional to start but quickly relaxed with my techniques. This to me is called taking the time it takes. :)

I lead Lola down the driveway through the woods to the house. Once there, I played point-to-point with her from vehicle to vehicle, to the porch, garbage can, fire pit, etc. There were treats on these targets and she was thrilled to find them. Rick had the radio playing and the rotisserie squeaking with a nice big turkey smoking on the grill but Lola was okay with it all. I allowed her to eat grass and mosey around. Then, I walked her into the woods down the trail. I thought that since she is a left-brained extrovert/introvert (and leans towards the introverted quadrant) that the different change of scenery would make her happy and not bored but engaged and thinking. She did very well in the dry and wet areas. At one point we had to "off-road" and blaze out own trail as we headed back to the house another way. We walked up and down hills, through trees, under trees and branches, through brush, all kinds of log obstacles of all sizes too. She'd walk through, under, or over anything I asked! Lola didn't balk about any of it and followed me intently. When I'd stop, she'd stop, when I walked, she walked. We ended up behind the house in a large patch of grass which she really loved eating. After a few minutes, we went back to the front of the house. I let her mosey around again checking things out and grazing.

Rick and I enjoyed talking and spending time with Lola. I really wanted to mount up and ride her back to the barn down the driveway. The only thing I could use as a mounting block was an upside down cooler. Lola was not concerned baout this huge blue plastic object that was plopped next to her, she just stood there. Fortunately I was able to mount with ease despite her only having a bareback pad on (the positive consequence of exercise and weight loss). Once aboard, we just sat there, breathing and hurrying up to do nothing. When I asked her to move forward she gave me a look that I intrepreted as ammoyed, I felt a little tense as Lola was a little tense I had decided. So, I asked Rick to lead us using the lead line on the hackamore, down the driveway. He is not exactly a horse person per se, he loves the horses, builds things for us, but is not a hands on horse person--do you know what I mean? But, nonetheless, he agreed and remarked that he'd do anything I asked because he loves me. He lead Lola and I was the passenger. He gave her treats, talked to both of us, and walked all the way to the playground. Then, he lead us around obstacles, between trees, and at one point, almost got me scrubbed off her as he ran me into a bunch of low tree limbs. She lazed through but I was faced with huge limbs at my waist! I had to push them all out of the way, I got a little tense anticipating falling off, Lola lurched forward a bit quickly but not too bad and really didn't go right-brained at all, and I did not fall off (hmmmshe isn't going to try to kill me...another realization that I needed to make). Then, he took us through a few more obstacles, handed me the line and said I was on my own. I rode her all over the playground having a great time, practicing focused riding (eyes, belly button, legs, rein---I think I have this right) and we did very well doing much of the same patterns as I did with Fosse. I dismounted feeling a true sense of success and well being. I thanked Rick for helping out and realized he did way more than he or I expected. I was so busy micromanaging him and telling him what to do and not to do that I was riding Lola freestyle and relaxed, not micromanaging her at all! I know this was a boost of confidence for the both of us.

After returning Lola to the barn, Whiskey, my right-brained introvert approached as if to say, okay, it is now my turn. I tacked him up like the other two, paying attention to his emotions and he was not emotional or worried at all this evening. He was actually fairly talkative when I first approached him. I played with his for a few minutes and mounted up. We waited a few minutes and then I asked him to move forward. I worked very hard at focused riding, watched my phases, and found myself saying out loud, "eyes, belly button, leg, rein, wait, wait, wait." Whiskey was fabulous and a great deal of fun. Since it was getting dark, I didn't bother to ride him too long or out of the play ground but, we certainly found ourselves in a session full of fun, treats, patterns, and no negative or reactionary emotional outbursts.

I am feeling better each time I play with the horses, a clear reminder that if I just play and ride, we can make progress and have fun! I have also noticed they are all talking more and more and seem to be more engaged with me. My comfort zone is moving back to where it was and I suspect will move farther as we progress. It is supposed to be a nice weekend and so I plan to get in lots of horse time as well as boating time! I would like to trail walk and then trail ride each horse down the driveway and on the trail near the house bu the end of the weekend.

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